About Project Nature

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.” – Rachel Carson, The Sense of Wonder

Playing and exploring outdoors can improve a child’s overall health and wellbeing.  But not all children and families spend time in nature—there are many barriers and disadvantaged families often have more barriers than others.

Project Nature wants to break down these barriers to help improve child health. Nature engagement can begin early with advice and tools from health professionals, and is supported with resources online and in the community to keep kids getting outside and thriving.

What is Project Nature?

Backed by pediatricians, Project Nature empowers families and child caregivers to explore nature with children, with a goal to reach families with the most barriers and greatest need.

Our approach includes:

  • Tools for outdoor play and exploration and information physicians can share in wellchild visits to help parents and caregivers familiarize kids with nature and build excitement for the outdoors.
  • Web-based resources such as outdoor places and activities finders, helping parents and caregivers discover nature across Washington and just outside their doors.
  • Social media engagement for parents, caregivers and Project Nature partners to share information and build community.

Project Nature will gather research to help support this work and spread the benefits for children through its network of partners.

Founders

Project Nature is an initiative of BestStart Washington. BestStart Washington, founded and led by Washington state pediatricians, gives children their best start toward lifelong success and resilience by working to improve their physical health, emotional wellbeing and academic achievement. BestStart Washington collaborates with community pediatricians, families and other partners to develop and fund innovative programs that give children the best possible start on healthy and productive lives.

BestStart pediatrician leaders believe in emerging research showing the health benefits of nature for children. Through years of providing patient care, BestStart leadership felt a call to action and created ProjectNature from their strong desire to make nature an important aspect of a child’s best start.

Resources:

Louv, R. (2016). Vitamin N: The essential guide to a nature-rich life. Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin Books. • Sampson, S.D. (2016). How to raise a wild child: The art and science of falling in love with nature. New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. •  Hanscom, A.J. (2016). Balanced and barefoot: How unrestricted outdoor play makes for strong, confident, and capable children.Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications.• Meier, D.R., & Sisk-Hilton, S. (Eds.). (2013). Nature education with young children: Integrating inquiry and practice. Abingdon-on-Thames, UK. • Routledge.Finch, K. (2009). A parent’s guide to nature play: How to give your children more outdoor play…and why you should! Omaha, NE: Green Hearts Institute for Nature in Childhood.• Kharod, D., & Arreguín-Anderson, M.G. (2015). Wild beginnings: How a San Antonio initiative instills the love of nature in young children. International Journal of Early Childhood Environmental Education, 3(1), 72-84.• Johnson, K. (2014). Creative connecting: Early childhood nature journaling sparks wonder and develops ecological literacy. International Journal of Early Childhood Environmental Education, 2(1), 126-139.• Lieberman, Gerald A.; Hoody, Linda L. (1998) Closing the Achievement Gap: Using the Environment as an Integrating Context for Learning. Results of a Nationwide Study. San Diego: SEER. • Rios, José M.; Brewer, Jessica. (2014). Outdoor Education and Science Achievement. Applied Environmental Education and Communication, v13 n4, p234-240. • Chawla, L. (2015). Benefits of Nature Contact for Children. J Plan Lit, 30(4), 433-452. • Chawla, L (2007). Childhood Experiences Associated with Care for the Natural World: A Theoretical Framework for Empirical Results. Children, Youth and Environments, 17.4, 144-170. •  Wells, M. and Lekies, K. (2006). Nature and the Life Course: Pathways from Childhood Nature Experiences to Adult Environmentalism. Children, Youth and Environments,16.1, 1-24. • Faber Taylor, A. and Kuo, F. (2009). Children With Attention Deficits Concentrate Better After Walk in the Park. Journal of Attention Disorders12.5, 402-409. • Cleland et al. (2008). A Prospective Examination of Children’s Time Spent Outdoors, Objectively Measured Physical Activity and Overweight. International Journal of Obesity32.11, 1685-1693. • Burdette et al. (2004). Parental Report of Outdoor Play-time as a Measure of Physical Activity in Preschool-Aged Children, Archives Of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, 158.4, 353-357. • Dadvand et al. (2015). Green Spaces and Cognitive Development in Primary Schoolchildren. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,112.26, 7937-7942. • Chawla, et al. (2014). Green schoolyards as havens from stress and resources for resilience in childhood and adolescence. Health & Place, V28, 1-13. Wu et al. (2014). Linking student performance in Massachusetts to the greenness of school Surroundings Using Remote Sensing. PLoS ONE,9(10): e108548.• Roe & Aspinall (2011). The Restorative Outcomes of Forest School and Conventional School in Young People with Good and Poor Behavior. Urban Forestry and Urban Greening, 10, 205-212.• Younan et al. (2016) Environmental Determinants of Aggression in Adolescents: Role of Urban Neighborhood Greenspace. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry, 55(7), 591, 601.

Our Partners